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We wish you a Kasio Kristmas – interview and giveaway!

Submitted by on December 10, 2009 – 5:44 pm 23 Comments

A group named Kasio Kristmas made up of Platinum and Gold-winning artists has recorded one coolest Christmas albums I’ve heard. I got a chance to chat with them and they gave me some great stuff to give away to our readers – keep reading for details on how to win it.

The Kasio Kristmas CD and DVD/CD bundle is essentially classic Christmas songs all done on Casio instruments. The tracks mix chiptunes, New Wave, Synth Rock, Modern Electronica, Chip Tunes, Disco, Jungle, Exotica and Electro Metal versions of all our holiday favorites. It’s been done in 5.1 surround, with some great videos and visualizations that pulsate along with the music.

Their arsenal of Casio noisemakers include:
VA-10, SK-1, VL-Tone, SK-5, Rapman, SA-21, EP-10, PT-07, CZ-1, TA-10, DH-100, DG-20, PG-380, Turbo Drive Calculator and Karate Fight. To top it all off, special guest Ikey from The Mars Volta appears on a track with his own personal array of Casios.

Here’s a taste of the craziness:

I got a chance to catch up with with EMF and Boto from Kasio Kristmas, and here’s what they had to say:

SG: So, what led you to do the album?
KK: Kasio Kristmas seemed like a quirky simple idea, traditional Christmas songs done with battery operated toy keyboards. Once we got into it we noticed that it was easier said than done.

Being products from the 80’s got us talking about the sounds of old keyboards and arcade games that we came to love, and how Casio was the epitome of that era in lo-fi sound. We knew that it would be quirky, but could we make a interesting, relevant and cool record by limiting ourselves to just Christmas Music and Casio? Sure why not, so we began to scour the internet and thrift stores buying up old Casios for $50 or less, which included the SK-1, SA-21, VL-Tone. (Ok, we did pay $250 for the VA-10.)

SG: Can you tell us about the recording process?
KK: We wanted to maintain the authenticity and quality of our sounds so we began the arduous task of recording and editing all of our own drum patterns using Neve mic pres. This extensive collection of loops became the building blocks for each track.

We had to be very creative and careful not to repeat ourselves with the same sounds throughout the entire CD, so we turned to the more obscure like the Sax DH-100, DG Guitars, Casiotone 403, Casio Drum sticks, and even some Casio handheld games. We even went as far as to use a talkbox, guitar pedals and sampled Casio noises with the SK-5 & SK-1 and played melodies with the new manipulated sounds etc.

The CZ-1 became our favorite for bass sounds while the VA-10 was used for vocals and effects. We used the SA-21 for it’s extensive sound bank as well as it’s drum sounds. We used every Casio we have for it’s drum patterns, which we chopped into loop’s then layered with others. If you listen carefully there’s a lot of drum sounds and patterns that change throughout the songs. On “Frosty The Rapman” (the only song with full on vocals) we paid tribute to the first Rap keyboard the RP-1 Casio Rapman. It’s obvious that we focused on the patterns from it. It definitely turned out to be quite an eclectic fun sounding project

If this wasn’t enough, we then decided to stretch the boundaries to a place where Casio has never gone before 5.1 Surround. How weird is that, Juxtaposed Holiday Hi-fi!!!!!! What a Dichotomy, 8-Bit Lo-Fi at 24-Bit 96kHz, 5.1 Surround Sound. We then thought it’d be nice to have some visuals to accompany the music while it’s playing. There are fun nostalgic things bouncing and pulsating to the music. They’re not music videos, but they are a lot cooler than some of the static pictures that stay on your screen like on most 5.1 DVD’s….just a fun extra that we wanted to add to the experience of our deluxe double disc edition.

SG: What is your all-time favorite synth?
KK: Our Favorite Casio would be the SA-21 and SK-1 we did a midi mod for one of our SK-1 which really helped utilize the SK-1’s usability.

SG: Being a gear hound myself, I always seem to regret selling or trading something years later – Were there any synths that got away, or ones that you wish you had never sold?
KK: The Casio that got away is the rare SK-8A, it has some middle eastern sounds as well as Arabic rhythms and scale capabilities. We missed out on attaining one about a year ago. We’re still hoping that Santa might bring us one, otherwise we are still hunting

SG: What’s in store for the future for Kasio Kristmas?
KK: Our future plans are collecting more Casios, (I believe we have about 50 at this time) doing more Remixes using only Casios, (like the one we did for Radioheads Nude which is a free download at our site) some sound design and we’re currently working on an all Casio metal project. It’s all popular metal songs from the 80’s featuring some surprise guest appearances and yes we will only be using Casios. Stay tuned!

The Giveaway!

Not only does their CD and DVD push all the right buttons for me (pun intended), but they also gave us a PILE of stuff to give away to our readers!

So here’s how it works:

Do one or more of the following things:

  • Go and check out their songs here, and tell us what your favorite Kasio Kristmas song is in the comments below. Random winners will get a free Kasio Kristmas CD!
  • Tell all about your favorite Casio Keyboard in the comments below, and why it’s your favorite. Random winners will get a free Kasio Kristmas DVD/CD bundle!
  • Upload a song that uses some Casio keyboard or noisemaker to our Soundcloud drop box and leave a note with the name of your song in the comments below. Random winners will get a free Kasio Kristmas T-Shirt!

The rest of you can find the Kasio Kristmas album here on Amazon or here from iTunes. It makes an awesome gift for a synth freak (like me, hint)!

SynthGear Tags

  • casio pg-380
  • Kasio

23 Comments »

  • Charmaine says:

    My favorite is Wish U A Merry Xmas

  • sw00p says:

    It would have to be the VL-1.

    Even though I had an EDP Wasp and a Dr Rhythm drum machine at the time, this thing made me drool.

    Downloaded the MP3 album from Amazon—I think my fave will likely be any track that has the VL-1 on it (*crosses fingers that there is one*).

  • Craig says:

    Mele Kalikimaka is great! It reminds me of the Katamai Damacy soundtrack a little.

    My fave Casio: the SK-1, becuase it’s the only one I have.

    Good luck to me!

  • I have to admit that I’m also a fan of the apparently quite popular SK-1. Back in highschool, I had an E-Mu EMAX II and my friend had a Casio SK-1. To say that the EMAX II handled most of the work is an understatement, obviously. However, the SK-1 just had a lot of character of its own, and we ended up using it more often than I expected it to. In fact, I was surprised at how often we resorted to sampling the SK-1 on the EMAX II, sometimes making whole banks that way.

  • James says:

    My Favorite tune has to be We Wish you a Merry Kristmas. Mainly because it even comes with a Casio style Auto Tune effect on the vocals. That sound is so hot right now.

  • Bang the DJ says:

    My Favorite Casio keyboard has to be the MT-40, for the original ‘Rock’ preset, aka Sleng Teng riddim.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhsjL8FHXbY

    The original, and best!

  • Oh my goodness, the HOURS my mate Steve & I spent fiddling with the mighty 1/2 second sampling time in the SK-1 were some of the very best in my life! It’s amazing how limited technology induces oodles of creativity!

    I can also recall when automated keyboards like these began hitting the big boxes. I was showing my dad all the arpeggio, autochords, and rhythms the early models could do one Christmas while shopping at KMart. Pretty soon I had a fairly large crowd of shoppers standing around grinning with enthusiasm. They all thought I was creating all the music from scratch by myself. The technology was so new and people were so unfamiliar with it that they bought my “air” performance completely. Several years later when “Bill & Ted’s” came out, I LOVED the Beethoven scene in the mall. Been there, done that!

    After listening to the snippets, I really enjoyed Kasio Kristmas’ take on Deck the Halls. Great stuff! Thanks for turning me on to them synthgear!

  • Brandon says:

    My favorite is definitely Jingle Bells. I love the weird little voice sounds.

  • thorn says:

    I think Deck The Halls tickled me the most.

  • Brandon says:

    My favorite Csio keyboard is the Casiotone CT-370 I have. The synth-reed and metallic sounds are awesome and my young ones dig dancing to the demo.

  • andrew dalio says:

    I’d have to agree w/ Brendan RE: Jingle Bells. Love the weirdness there!

  • Jeff Central says:

    My favorite Casio keyboard was the SK-5. It was cool because you could store four different samples into it and play them back over the keyboard. You could speed them up or slow them down and with lots of finger manipulation you could get a couple going at the same time and still use your pinkies to hit a few keys. Definitley lots of fun! I heard you can still manipulate these things today and make them Midi compatible.

    Cheers,
    Jeff

  • agromanfromeastpalmdale says:

    Absolutely LOVE it. Takes me on an Xmas journey that I didn’t think was possible. Makes me want to open up the service hatch on Rudolph the red nosed raindeers back and tweak his bionics to make him fly faster with a shinier nose.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!

  • Porsupah says:

    I always wished I could’ve had a VL-1, but it was just too expensive a present at the time. (Not that discovering computers around the same time helped matters =:)

    I’ll give Deck the Halls the edge, for its unstoppable sense of enthusiasm – it’s not the most richly layered of them all, but there’s just something about that one that particularly catches me. (Little Drummer Boy is a worthy runner-up, too – you’ve not heard it like this before!)

  • Nick says:

    I think Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer is my favorite! I love new takes on old Christmas music. I’ve been trying to freshen up the xmas music at the radio station I work at, and things like this are the best!

  • Jess says:

    It’s hard to pick a favorite from the bunch since they all have their own cool factor, but it would be between the ’12 Days of Christmas” & “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa”. They both have intricate sounding passages and layered surprises. These recordings must have taken a long time to produce & plan out. Kasio Kristmas really pulled this off nicely. Their Remix of the Radiohead song is really amazing too.

  • NerdcoreFreakazoid says:

    Casiocore Christmas tunes! It’s a perfect blend of chiptunes/Nerdcore/LoFi/Electronica. Love them all, nice work.

  • Chris says:

    Kasio Kristmas has broadened my horizons for an electronic Christmas. I love the tunes! I wish they were endless!

  • Martin says:

    For me it’s either the VL-1 (as it was my first) or the CZ-101; because I sold my atari-ST to fund it and then realised I didn’t have a computer to use as a sequencer.

  • Joe Bain says:

    Just uploaded a casio-tatsic song, Schadefreude. I use a Casio SK-1 in a lot of my songs, it has such a great broken tone to it, and the sampling is amazing.

    The most technically outstanding Casio for me has to be the VL-Tone. Not only does it come in a striking leatherette case. Not only does it have a built in calculator. There’s more: you can program the simple synthesizer on it by entering digits whilst in the calculator mode for the ultimate in lo-fi, hard-to-get-to sounds, ha.

  • Sam says:

    Without a doubt, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. That riff in the very beginning reminds me of so many of the 8-bit NES games I’ve played. Whenever I hear their version of Jingle Bells, I get this slightly nauseous feeling thinking of a conehead with fingerteeth. But in a good way.

  • tweakedHead says:

    I love the “Space Invader” section in “The 12 Days Of Christmas” It’s amazing how it fits nicely into the song, who would have thought? The Jazzy section is hilarious!

  • Alex Andersson says:

    For me it’s my VA-10 working alongside my SK-60. You could almost start a complete band with just those two keyboards alone! Using the two together makes them the PERFECT pair for songwriting and demo making… especially when so many areas of the songwriting process is covered by the sampling, voice-arranging and effects banks. So many sounds to choose from and the ‘Ahhhs’ and ‘Ooohs’ and ‘Doo Bee Daah’ voices on the SK-60 are awesome for laying down rough vocal tracks!

    Second in line would have to be my DM-100, or CZ-101, or Rapman, or SK-1/5/8/200 … or my Yamaha VSS-30/200 keyboards. When you spend the time (and money) building a large Kasio Kristmas collection (like I have), it becomes quite difficult to choose a favorite amongst so many outstanding models. But the VA-10 and SK-60 together as a team are quite simply the best in my opinion!

    Great music fellas! :D

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